NEW YORK -- NHL labor negotiations will resume Thursday after the players' union reviewed management's proposal and saw it as only a small step forward to ending the monthlong lockout.

The NHL made the proposal Tuesday in what it said was an attempt to preserve a full 82-game schedule. The league publicly released the plan Wednesday.

NHL players' union head Donald Fehr met with players to formulate the union's response. In a letter to players and agents, he said the management plan would cost his members more than $1.6 billion over six years.

"Simply put, the owners' new proposal, while not quite as Draconian as their previous proposals, still represents enormous reductions in player salaries and individual contracting rights," Fehr said in the letter, according to a report by TSN. "As you will see, at the 5 percent industry growth rate the owners predict, the salary reduction over six years exceeds $1.6 billion. What do the owners offer in return?"

The lockout began Sept. 16 and last week the league canceled regular-season games through Oct. 24. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, in announcing the new proposal, called it "a fair offer for a long-term deal" and "one that we hope gets a positive reaction."

"We're studying it and we're trying to get ready to give a response tomorrow," said union lawyer Steve Fehr, brother of the union leader.

In the midst of their third lockout since 1994, owners gave the union what the league called a "proposal to save 82-game season." The NHL said it hoped a deal would be reached by Oct 25 and the season would start by Nov. 2, three weeks behind schedule.

The NHL released details of its offer for a six-year deal with a mutual option for a seventh. The plan includes a 50-50 split in hockey related revenue.

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